In the eastern part of the Chongwe District of Lusaka Province flows the Chongwe river on which the people of the Kapete area depend for their livelihoods. This area consisting of 14 villages, 2 wards, 3 agricultural camps, 4 primary schools and falls under chief Bunda Bunda of the Soli tribe.
The Kapete Landscape Project and communities are supported by the staff of the SKI partner and AEL collaborative member KATC (Kasisi Agricultural Training Center).
The Kapete area is close to Lusaka, the capital of Zambia, and is experiencing a rapid population growth as it is popular with retirees venturing into agriculture. Farming depend on two streams, originating in the Chainama hills, that feed the Chongwe River. Around 1000 households keep cattle and goats and 3000 households depend on irrigated vegetable farming. These streams used to have water at least up to October each year but now most of these water sources are dry by the end of June and water has to be pumped from boreholes which means the water table is being depleted. The dry season is now 8 months long. Contributing to the drying out of the rivers is deforestation as a result of charcoal production. It has become very important to reforest the area and to ensure that the soil and rivers retain water for much longer.
The communities in the Kapete area want to restore their water catchment area.
They thus understand that their priorities are to address the impact of deforestation, charcoal production, overuse of rivers, streams and underground water. They also realise that they have to stop soil erosion and increase soil fertility which will improve the water holding capacity of the soil.
Using agroecological practices to regenerate the landscape is the route they want to follow.
They aim to focus on tree planting, protecting the remaining woodlands and reduce soil erosion. If they can increase diversity and productivity simultaneously they believe they will improve both nutrition and their incomes in the long run.
The first steps have been to involve the whole community and its leadership and to agree on a plan of action. To get to this point KATC used a participatory community mapping process that helped everyone to agree on what the important issues were and what they need to do to have positive change.
SCOPE Zambia also conducted an ILUD (Integrated Land Use Design) training with the community members, a process that compliments the mapping process by providing a framework for holistic design of the landscape. This was followed up by capacity building trainings in agroecological practices. A priority was the establishment of community tree nurseries to start cultivating the trees that will be needed for reforestation. One of these nurseries are now independently run by the Shimwengwe women’s group. To ensure that the AE practices spread fast they set up learning sites on how to establish wood lots, fodder banks and how to do contouring of sloping areas. Knowledge is also spread through the formation of community study circles, field days and farmer to farmer learning and exchange visits. These activities is motivating for farmers as it recognises their expertise and efforts.
Staff and farmers were trained on documentation skills to ensure that progress in this landscape regeneration project is documented and can be shared with others.
The leadership of headmen and women in this project has been very important in taking the work forward. Involving staff from the Ministry of Agriculture in the trainings and especially the ILUD training has helped facilitate broader buy in from leadership in the area.
A critical realisation by the community has been a recognition that waiting for outsiders to tell them what their problems are and what they should do has not helped them in the past. The community realised that they must stop waiting for outsiders and take responsibility for their problems.
Even though there have been some trainings, follow up trainings and support to the communities is an immediate priority. There is also a need for ongoing dialogues as the issues are complex and the more community members deepen their understanding of the issues and solutions, the more sustainable the work will be.
There has been a focus on actively involving women and youth to take on active roles and this needs to be continued.